If you don’t follow her then you should. I first met Fiona at a meet up for bloggers who talk openly about Mental Health on their social media channels and how we can support our insta community better but also how do we protect ourselves. If you ever have the pleasure of meeting Fiona she has a warmth to her (not just because she is a beaut red head) but there is something about the energy she brings.
I followed her pretty quickly after meeting hr (probably as she was sat opposite because I play it cool like that) and I was hooked on her openness, how raw she is about her mental health journey but also how much she is encouraging others and really opening up those conversations.
Fiona has been writing for some time and writes for publications such as the Metro, Happiful Magazine and Healthline but Fiona isn’t just writing for them, she has written a book! (goals!). I wanted to know more about how she wrote it, why and so I am bringing something different to my blog with my very first interview.
I hope you enjoy it and if – like me social media plays a huge part in your life (not always a good thing) but you also feel it effect your mental health then this interview is a must read for you.
Should you have any further questions you would like to know from me an email or DM as myself and Fiona will be taking to Instagram LIVE next week to discuss all thing mental health a little bit further.
When you First decided to write a book what was the main reason / purpose?
I was feeling a little lost in the blogging world, feeling quite overwhelmed with the pressure to have a certain number of followers, or page views, or to be working with big brands to make money. I was really quite burned out and took a week off to go on holiday with my mum. Whilst I was away I read two books: Ctrl, Alt, Delete by Emma Gannon and Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon. Reading both their separate struggles with the online world and mental health made me feel like I had my own story to tell. I had always wanted to write a book and suddenly felt a real urge to take on a project which would delve deeper than a 500 word blog post. So for selfish reasons, I wanted to write it for myself. But I also wanted to start answering questions about social media and mental health instead of listening to people continually ask ‘Is it good? Is it bad?’ I really wanted to tell people my opinion on the subject!
What is your personal experience with Social Media & Mental Health
It’s ongoing and it’s changing. As someone who was isolated by depression and social anxiety, social media has been a lifeline for me. After my mental breakdown I felt like a blank canvas, I had no purpose in life. Social media and blogging in particular helped me find my voice again and it was the safest space for me to do so at that time. But now that it’s become a job, I find it harder to disconnect. Holidays are really important for me to recenter and remind myself what’s real and whats not. I think we’re all going through a period of un-learning our bad habits when it comes to social media, me included.
What advice would you give someone who is struggling with their mental health?
I’m not a trained professional, but I suppose my advice would be to go out and find the people who are qualified. Family and friends can give you comfort, and when you need empathy having those people around can be amazing. But make sure you talk to people who really know how to treat your condition, whether it’s a GP or a psychologist.
In the media its discussed often that there is such a high correlation between mental health and social media use – do you think this is accurate and what can we do to change this?
It’s interesting because I’ve also read studies that show how effective social media can be in helping people with depression express their feelings and feel heard. It helps people talk to therapists at the touch of a button. It helps people get access to lots of great resources. But I do understand that social media can be detrimental too, especially when kids and teenagers are constantly comparing themselves to others and setting unrealistic expectations. I think we’re all starting to realise how much social media has gotten out of control and we’re making changes to move away from that. Time offline is seen as a luxury now, and people are starting to schedule it in and see the value in it.
What would you say was you biggest challenge in writing the book?
Self-doubt was a major issue for me. I knew what I wanted to say but every few chapters I would take a step back and start to question if it was really worth saying. I think any creative project always comes with those moments of fear, but nothing good happens without a little bit of discomfort, right?
What would you say your biggest learning has been with this experience?
Planning is important. I spent two full days racking my brains for every little anecdote and memory which I thought would be worthwhile. There were post-it notes EVERYWHERE! I literally had about 100 of them and then rearranged them all chronologically to form chapters. Breaking it into chunks kept me on track and actually in the end I was ahead of schedule.
Do you ever feel overhwhelmed with Social media and if you do how do you manage this?
I don’t feel overwhelmed but I it definitely sucks me in. It makes my anxiety worse and really impacts my productivity and my creativity. Recently, I’ve been trying to ask myself why I’m going online. If it’s out of habit I try and stop myself. If it’s because I’m bored I try and replace the habit with something more creatively stimulating like reading a book. Or I try to do something else with my hands like clean the bathroom.
What can readers expect to get/feel from reading your book?
There’s a lot of shameless reminiscing about the 90s including talk of the Spice Girls, MSN messenger and dial-up broadband! I’m one of those people who grew up as the internet was being introduced to the world so I thought it was important to explore the idea of what it was like to live before social media was ‘a thing’. Yes there are a few dark moments in there too, it is about my depression after all. But there is a lot of hope in there too, lots of honesty about how we measure our own self-worth and success, and how we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves when we’re trying to figure things out.
Depression in a Digital Age – The Highs and Lows of Perfectionism
Released 20 November 2018 on Trigger Publishing
Click here to order now on amazon
Fiona was your average 80’s baby. She grew up without an iPhone, used actual landlines to make calls, and didn’t have the luxury (or perhaps the curse) of Facebook during her adolescent years. But though her childhood took place in an analogue world, she found herself suffering from the same problems many young people face today; the race for perfectionism, high levels of anxiety, a fear of success.
After an unfulfilling university experience, a stressful beginning in a management career, and a severe case of impostor syndrome, Fiona suffered a nervous breakdown in her mid-twenties. Amongst therapy and medication, it was the online community which gave Fiona the comfort she needed to recover.
Fiona traces her life dealing with anxiety and the subsequent depression, and how a digital life helped her find her community, find her voice, find herself.
Fiona remains an active blogger, writer and influencer in the mental health community. She has written for Mind, Heads Together, Healthline, Metro and The Huffington Post. In an increasingly heated discussion about mental health and the internet, Fiona offers a different, positive perspective.
A brilliantly honest reminder about how to control your online space and not let it control you.’ — Emma Gannon, Sunday Times Bestselling Author
‘Fiona writes about mental health with fearless honesty and a quick wit. So much will resonate with so many.’ — Yvette Caster, Journalist and host of Metro.co.uk’s Mentally Yours podcast
‘Fiona’s open and engaging style draws you into her world … We can all learn from her journey and recognise that, even when following our dreams, we all need to go at our own pace.’ —Rebecca Thair, Editor at Happiful
‘Fiona has been able to accurately put into words the horrendous pressure so many of us experience in the modern world, trying to meet society’s expectations of success … So many people will find comfort in this book.’ — Chloe Brotheridge, author of The Anxiety Solution
‘I loved it. A brilliant and frank look at something that absolutely needs to be talked about in this way. A grippingly honest account that so many of us are silently experiencing. Reading Fiona’s honest and human account of how to cope in the modern world is only going to be good for your mental health.’ — Jo Love, lobellaloves.com
‘A refreshingly honest account of the highs and lows of social media and mental health.’ — Mikhila McDaid, Blogger and Content Creator
Fiona Thomas is from Birmingham, UK and was diagnosed with depression in 2012 and felt completely lost. She was unable to work for almost a year, and turned to blogging in that time turned as a hobby. However, though it started off as a way to pass time, Fiona quickly became obsessed with the online world, leading her to experience high levels of anxiety.
Now a proud advocate for technology as a communication tool for those of us who suffer the crippling symptoms of mental illness, Fiona has used the internet to help hone her identity and create a supportive community. Fiona has her own website and is a freelance writer with work published on Metro, Healthline, Heads Together, Mind, Counselling Directory, and Happiful magazine. This book is an extension of her work, and a celebration of all that’s possible through the power of social media.